ICC reduces number of appeals to 2 in umpire referral system

Dubai: In a bid to prevent “frivolous challenges” by players, the International Cricket Council will reduce the number of appeals to two in the umpire referral system during the upcoming series between West Indies and England.

The ICC on Thursday announced that the ongoing trial of the umpire decision review system will be reduced to two unsuccessful reviews from three each side per innings after receiving initial feedback from players and match officials.

The game’s world governing body said both West Indies and England have approved the change and if it proved to be a successful modification in the first two Tests of the West Indies-England series, it will then be tried one last time in Australia’s tour of South Africa.

A full appraisal of the trial will be undertaken thereafter and the issue of whether to continue with the review system or discard will be debated at the ICC Cricket Committee in May.

“The umpire decision review system trial has so far received mostly positive feedback from players and officials but we want to get it right before we consider applying it to international cricket on a permanent basis,” ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement.

“That is why we have made this refinement to it. It has become clear during the trial so far that three unsuccessful reviews per innings is too many as there is potential there for frivolous or unnecessary reviews to be made by one side or the other,” Lorgat said.

“This is all part of the trial process. We are testing different playing conditions so that we can find the best one and give the trial every chance of succeeding. We listen to feedback and we have been hearing that two is a preferred option,” he added.

With this change, the fielding and batting now can make two unsuccessful appeals to the umpire per innings to change a decision if it is perceived to have been incorrect.

However, the rest of the playing conditions for this trial remain unchanged with the appeals can be made only by the batsman in receipt of the umpire’s original decision or the captain of the fielding side, in both cases by the player making a ‘T’ sign with both forearms at shoulder height.

The on-field umpire will consult with the third umpire, who will review available television coverage of the incident before relaying fact-based information back to his colleague.

The on-field umpire will then deliver his decision either by raising his finger to indicate ‘out’ or by crossing his hands in a horizontal position side to side in front and above his waist three times – as per a ‘safe’ decision by an official in baseball.

If it is different to his original decision, the umpire will touch both shoulders, each with the opposition hand, to revoke the previous signal and then make a fresh signal as per the revised decision.

Commenting on the trial, ICC General Manager-Cricket David Richardson said, “Our Emirates Elite and International Panel umpires already ensure the vast majority of decisions made in any Test or ODI are correct but we want to see if we can enhance the game further by reducing or removing the few clearly incorrect ones.

“The fact that each side is now allowed only two unsuccessful requests to review in each innings should mean that players will not make frivolous challenges and, instead, only seek a referral to decisions that, it is quickly clear, are highly likely to be incorrect.

“By seeking to reduce these potentially contentious decisions we believe we can help remove a source of tension and frustration among players and spectators as well as any resultant pressure on umpires.”

He added that the ICC will undertake a detailed review of the system once its trial is over.

“Once the trial is over we will conduct a thorough review of the process before deciding whether the trial was successful and worth persevering with.”

The four-Test series between West Indies and England begins in Jamaica on February 4 while the South Africa versus Australia series gets underway in Johannesburg on February 26.

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